Our little chis are honestly one of the cutest dog breeds that melt your heart. Not that other breeds are any lesser, but Chihuahuas are an entirely different game.
Despite their tiny stature, they have large personalities. They are bold and stubborn and don’t consider themselves any less strong than large breed dogs.
In our house, Charlie (our 6-pound chi) is the one who tries to boss around Oscar (a full grown Labrador who is more than thrice his size.)
But it doesn’t mean that Chihuahuas are inherently aggressive; how they respond to situations and the habits they develop largely depends on how you train them.
There are times when we unconsciously encourage aggressive behaviors, particularly in small dogs because we treat them differently than our large breeds. However, if you have a pup who has aggression issues or want to prevent these unwanted behaviors in your chi, here are six useful techniques that will help you manage this trait:
The Don’ts of Dealing with Chi Aggression
So usually I begin with offering suggestions but with problems such as aggression, the mistakes you may make while acting out in frustration can worsen your chi’s behavior.
Of course, the responsibility of a new canine member in the house can be overwhelming and that coupled with a snapping and growling dog can be quite challenging since you weren’t expecting it- but remember that it is essential to keep your calm at this time.
Don’t make the mistake of lashing out or yelling on your pup or physically threatening the dog as that may lead the Chihuahua to think that you are fighting for the alpha position. Don’t lock your dog in a room as a punishment; instead use it as an opportunity to correct help him understand the right behaviors.
Socialize your Chihuahua
Many dog-parents may not be aware of the fact that fear is a primary cause of aggression in dogs. They act out when they meet new people or encounter new experiences that they aren’t accustomed to.
Therefore it is crucial to socialize your pup from a young age to help him get over the fear of the unknown. Make sure you take him out and walk him around the block, don’t just carry him yourself.
Instead let your little monster explore the world. Let your Chihuahua meet other dogs, people and ensure that all experiences are positive, so your pup becomes aware of the fact that new sounds and sights are meant to be fun.
Help Your Pup Realize who the Leader is
A common reason behind canine aggression is that Chihuahuas consider themselves the pack leaders and therefore don’t respect and obey your commands.
You might have seen your pup growling when you try to take away a toy or touch his food bowls. This is because they consider it upon themselves as the leader to guard and protect their belongings and gradually the habit may lead to the onset of other aggressive behaviors.
So what might be the solution to this problem? It is teaching your dog who the leader is and how do you claim your leadership? The best way is by using “food.”
As soon as your chi realizes that you are the one who makes the decision of giving out food, he will know who the leader is and will begin respecting your position. To train your dog, make it a habit only of giving out the delicious dog food after you chi obeys the sit command and waits for his meal.
Dogs need structure in their lives, and for that, you need to set house rules. Don’t let your dog dominate as the habit may gradually turn into aggression. The key is to make a firm decision and stick to it.
You can decide these rules according to your preferences, when the food should be given, what furniture your chi is allowed on, what possessions belong to them, and when is playtime. Be firm and consistent with these rules without being harsh on your dog. Use positive reinforcement techniques to make your dog understand and respect the boundaries.
Training is Essential
Teaching your dog basic commands and cues is necessary. Although this may be difficult with aggressive dogs, which see themselves as the alpha, with consistent effort you will be able to succeed. Even if your chihuahua has already been through obedience training, a recall session each day will still be useful.
Commands such as sit, stay and come are beneficial as these will aid in stopping him from attacking or threatening any stranger. Training your canine to walk on a leash is also crucial as it will help establish you as the alpha and enable your chi to understand how to respond in acceptable ways.
Reward Positive Behavior
Whenever your chi obeys a command or stops growling and snapping over something that he previously used to, praise and reward him with treats. Whenever your dog begins to display aggression, you must command him to stop and when he obeys make it a point to reward your chihuahua with treats.
You may have to act firm when your Chihuahua doesn’t comply to the commands, you don’t have to be too hard on him but be sure to get the message through.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.